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Hot water freezes faster than cold water
Monday, February 28, 2005

This is one of the most unintuitive natural observation, which to date has no known reasonable, nor scientific accepted explanation.

[Edit: modified statement, as per comment given - Thank you, whoever you are]

Again, let me repeat it:
    Hot water can in fact freeze faster than cold water for a wide range of experimental conditions.

8:03 AM | 1 comment(s) |

Bill Gates, a regular old chap
Friday, February 25, 2005

Bill Gates has to be one of the most intriguing personalities of our times.

He dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft and became the poster child of the mythical "college dropout." In fact, most .com(s) companies had to have one in order to succeed. Or perhaps that was the myth.

BTW, kids, stay in school - If you have no good reason to stay in, do it just to piss off .00001% of the population.

Anyway, it is hard to imagine life as Bill, but thanks to arranged PR, here is a small glimpse of his work day:
    I have a meeting today with our people doing search. And that's an area where Google has got out in front, does a very good job. We're sort of the David vs. Goliath in that (chuckles) particular battle so we'll have fun talking to them about their progress. I am meeting with our tablet people about the idea of carrying text books around. They'll have just a tablet device that they can call up the material on. That's been a dream for a long time, we're making progress there. So review of the software projects and encouraging them in terms of what they are doing well and telling them who else they need to work with. That's the primary thing on my schedule.

A TV/Magazine interview doesn't give us a good measure of the core of an individual, however, it is interesting to read what he has to respond to "candid" queries.

1:31 AM | 0 comment(s) |

NHL lockout: it's all about timing
Friday, February 18, 2005

I have never understood the fixation of professional sports. I follow no teams, I have no sport heroes to worship, I have no interest to know why the NHL is on strike.

In fact, sports are not about sports, they are about entertainment and they are about money.

We all know that is not about the fans, as players claim. Being a role model must be tiring and probably impossible, by today's standards.

Professional sports are about hard core entertainment - In the times of antiquity, professional sportmen were called gladiators - Minus the forced fighting, plus the millions of dollars, of course.

Also, professional TV transmitted events are less bloody than they probably were two thousand years ago - But, we are not too far off: anyone recall "The Ultimate Fighting Championships"? BTW, I could have taken Gracie :)

Anyway, just because I don't like to watch professional players playing, it doesn't mean that they are not important to the economy.

Professional sport leagues are big business. So, having a cancelled NHL season is no laughing matter. Take aside the under paid players (yes, they deserved all the inflated salaries they receive), and the under earning owners (they also deserve all the revenues from their investments), the real victim is the invisible economy.

We have thousands of unemployed "hockey" workers: hockey commentators, hotdog vendors, big foam finger makers, bar owners, beer makers. I mean, I know a few people that really like that hockey stuff (or basketball, or football).

It's not all sadness, though.

I'm an optimist, almost to a fault. Instead of thinking how much money is being lost because of a hockey lockout, we should be concentrating on all those people that have nothing to watch, or do, or sell.

It's reinvention time. If I were part of the other professional sport leagues (which I'm not), I'd be pressuring my boss (if I had one) to do something about all those empty minds having no where to turn, no steroid pumped humanoid specimens to worship, no beer to drink, no stats to follow.

It's strategy time: how can all the other professional leagues/corporations steal away all those fans from the NHL? How can all those hockey centered companies reinvent themselves to serve another sport in two weeks notice.

It's guerrilla marketing/management/economics. In a changing world, we must be agile and lean to succeed; the execution must be flawless; and the sense of urgency must be cherished by all. They must act as if this fiscal year is the last one. Sun-Tzu wrote:
    "On death ground,
    We demonstrate
    The desperateness
    Of the situation"
It doesn't require a big stretch of the imagination to see how this applies to the idle NHL dependent industry.

So, the NHL lockout is a good thing. The possibilities are endless, and the timing for competition and reinvention is perfect - It's a win/win for all - Except for the players, and yet, it seems that as a matter of principle, they rather not earn a living exploiting what they do best: entertain the masses.

8:29 PM | 0 comment(s) |

RFIDed no more
Wednesday, February 16, 2005

It just seemed like a bad idea from the get go:
    "The California grade school that required students to wear radio frequency identification badges has ended the program because the company that developed the technology pulled out."

In case you missed the first post, here it is: Java RFID, anyone?

6:56 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Mark Jen in 15 minutes

I haven't been blogging for too long, and rarely post anything of much interest to the general public. In truth, the only reasons I keep a blog are:
  1. Virtual resume - I'm always available for contract
  2. Improve my writing skills - Apparently, writing skills are not evenly distributed among the general population, hence, I should practice
A good portion of bloggers are probably in the same category as I am. Others, however, blog for vanity's sake, as they like to share their life with whoever wants to read about them.

Obviously enough, your personal life intersects with your professional life and one needs to choose what to write about. There is an invisible line that needs to be kept in mind. Mark Jen crossed the imaginary line in a big way.

I don't know him personally. And all I know about him is mostly what has been said about him around the blogosphere.

If you don't know Mark - or leave under a virtual rock :) - he was fired from google for blogging some confidential information about his experiences inside the company. He was employed by google for 2 whole weeks (give or take a couple of days). Before his short stint at google, he was employed at Microsoft.

I know that everyone gives him advice and call him not so flattering names, perhaps for wasting one of the best opportunities in his short career. From what we know, google seems to be THE company to work for right now, and they seem to be positioning themselves to be next big thing of this decade.

Anyway, we knew of his firing within hours of the event. The whole melodrama is probably not "news worthy" in the sense that we think of news. He wasn't in the 11 o'clock news, however, he is news and his 15 web minutes of fame are almost over. Or at least, untill the wikipedia editors delete his article - Imagine, being part of an encyclopedia.

BTW, a few people say that blogs will make brick and mortar media houses obsolete - I'd tend to agree - It's time to evolve, I guess.

Much advice has been given to him, but the clear thing for him to do right now (I know this is my advice) is to capitalize from his new found fame. I believe he was a Product Manager who doesn't use CAPITAL LETTERS to write in his blog. And he should try to figure out a way to capitlize on his fame as he is probably more interesting to a lot of people, not for his C++ skills, but for his notoriety with google and his quick firing.

It's amazing that such a mundane event generates so much traffic and talk among bloggers - Perhaps, we all want a piece of the traffic he is generating.

I can't think of a good reason why I would want the traffic. I mean, I have nothing to sell and I actually pay an ISP to host, so the bandwidth is not free. But, I guess this is the new millennia and it is just the thing to do. I.e. Generate traffic and use electrons for no good reason.

On the other hand, if you are interested in offering me contract work, you can always send me an email - Then I guess the money spent to host the site, was well invested.

Anyway, this guy has some good advice for our friend Mark Jen - Well, at least some of the more coherent rant you could find out there, right now.

I wonder how he will capitalize on his new found fame. I predict he will write a book - It's only logical - And I think he should make it and ebook to be distributed via his blog.

Good luck Mark Jen.

1:20 AM | 0 comment(s) |

Java RFID, anyone?
Friday, February 11, 2005

The use of RFID technologty to track inventory in a warehouse or store, to me, seems like a good idea.

Wal-Mart has been using such technology for some time now, to keep track of their inventory - Wal-Mart, as a corporation, seems to be ahead of the pack when it comes to retailing - Wal-Mart is the typical poster child in business classes. I remember hearing in my management and marketing classes about their feats of inventiveness - And it definitely shows in the bottom line.

Anyway, I have two scenarios to present to you that make use of RFID technology - One is fictional; the other one is not.

Scenario one
A school full of children wearing such RFID tags all day long. RFID readers are placed at the entrance of classrooms to aid in attendance; Also, place readers at the entrance of washrooms (I can't think of a good idea why).

Scenario two
Inside a grocery store, a shady looking character is placing items in his big long black trench coat. When he is completely full of groceries, he dashes toward the door appearing to leave without paying - But wait, RFID comes to rescue. His bank account (or some kind of account) is automatically charged with the correct (we hope) cost of his purchase.

The fictional scenario?

...Drum roll, please...

Scenario number two. I don't know if you recall (or saw, if you are in North America) an IBM commercial with the premise of the story exactly as I described above.

Scenario number one is not fictional. A school's administration body in California (U.S.A.) decided that such technology would be a good idea to implement in their school.

They also decided to accept money from the company that makes such systems, to beta test their technology. It gets better: the school administrators neglected to tell the parents that such system was being implemented and then made the wearing of the RFID tags mandatory, with disciplinary actions if a student failed to wear the tracking device.

As a parent, I'd feel uneasy if my son came home wearing such tag without my consent.

Apparently, I'm not alone with that reaction. Children's parents seemed to have a problem as well, claiming privacy issues and questioning the school administration's ethical behavior for using children as "guinea pigs" for untested technology.

If you want the details, read Wired's article School RFID Plan Gets an F.

As a Software Developer, I get exited to hear that new technologies aid in making our lives easier, generate more revenue in all directions, and spread information in remote areas of the world. However, I still think we need better ways to bring them into public consumption without violating human rights and liberties, and most importantly, introducing them without irritating children's parents. You just don't mess with anyone's kids :)

Any Java developers out there, implementing any type of RFID application?

8:27 AM | 0 comment(s) |

Consolidation of search engines
Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Innovation at its best...Wait, do they all look the same?

I shall buy them all to make a super dupper search engine and call it:

I actually had to stop at 11 search engines, as there are literally hundreds of them.

Why is free searching so important that billions of dollars are invested (wisely?) in such technology?

I guess it's all about ad money and brand recognition - And perhaps in the future, a search fee - I believe we don't have a "fee per search" business model, as we don't yet have the infrastucture to charge clients per click/byte.

In the mean time, we are getting hooked on searching - I use google, at least 10 times a day (And all work related) - Imagine all that cash google will make. No wonder, they are trading > $200.00 per share and probably scaring the pants off the big name brand corporations.

So, we know that not all the search engine companies will succeed, then how will we justify all that R&D money spenditure and nothing really new to show for, except a carbon copy of the leader's web interface.

I don't mean that we shouldn't try, but, is the future of the internet really all about searching? What about P2P? What about VoIP? What about contextual web? What about web services? What about teletransportation? What about cold fusion? What about about me? What about stopping spam?

10:34 PM | 0 comment(s) |

Shoulder of giants
Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Today, I found a blog entry called Why Quantum Theory is important for Object Orientation.

Interesting stuff - Once read, you can't unread it. I, also like to put different (seemingly unrelated) things together and see how it turns out - Read Software Engineering and dogs.

Anyway, if you have 5 minutes to waste, read on...

Back to quantumifying Object Oriented theory: objects, per se, never exist, and are really an abstraction of an idea that lives as long as there electrons flowing on some piece of silicon, nothing more. On the other hand, a particle "exists," (in the sense that we think of existence) and then becomes reality as needed. So, I don't see any parallels between Quantum and OO.

OO, is not a near perfect theory, nor any type of law claiming to predict the success of any project. OO is nothing more than the logical growth of older software building practices (Structure or Classical Software Engineering): we started with chaotic processes and we ended up with "fake" controlled chaotic processes. We don't know if they are correct, however, something is better than nothing and we seem to have some success using OO and a few other techniques.

There is no magic, the power of OO comes from the realization that we can break things into well defined abstract representation of whatever domain we are representing. I.e. A window, a ball, a bank account, etc, etc. So, once the abstraction is defined, we can forget about its implementation and we can just reuse it to do our bidding in a larger system - Noting, that an object in OO theory is nothing more than an instance of an Abstract Data Type that supports inheritance - This is hardly a new idea - It's been around since the 60s.

I do agree with the fact that both theories try to make sense of larger systems, however, OO is probably not a good proponent to solve the real problem we have with engineering software: mainly its complexity and, what I call, factorial explosion. I.e. Millions of 0s and 1s put together to form binary strings, which in turn represent the state of a binary machine in RAM and in some storage medium (most computers, now a days).

OOP will not died out. OO, however, will likely evolve into something better - Perhaps Aspect Oriented Programming or perhaps to something else with a catchy name and acronym that will become the new "new thing."

The evolution of any process is only an indication that we are doing something wrong and it must be improved, or the process has outgrown its need. Either we modify the process, or stop using it all together. Structure development practices, is such a process - If we need reusable components, we better start thinking of how to design and reuse those components and OO lends itself to such task: we don't separate data and behaviour, as we used to do with Structure programming styles.

Quantum Theory, on the other hand will be either proved, or disproved - No two ways about it - It can only be improved by finding truth, via the human concoction of abstract thinking that we call Mathematics - With Mathematics, we are able to prove, or at least predict certain phenomena in our "physical" world: we can predict how much energy we will get out of a photon hitting a sheet of metal (Einstein). We can calculate how fast the space shuttle needs to go, in order to escape the Earth's gravitational field (Newton). We will see a dead cat, when the look directly at it (Schrödinger). We indeed, stand on the shoulders of giants. Perhaps, now a days we don't stand on their shoulders, we more or less read their blogs and pass the word around.

So, using physics and the scientific method we are able to predict physical phenomena. When we discuss software systems, it is an entirely different proposition. I don't believe we will ever be able to predict, to the nearest second, when the last line of code will be typed; nor that we will not have touch the source code any more, as it is perfect when we are done with it and solves the problem we want to solve - Never say never, but, I think my prediction will stand for a few decades to come.

<suspend belief>
What if we think of code as long strings of 0s and 1s, that form executable binaries.

Imagine, if you will, that we are able to dictate our requirements in human language, and with the use of some generating function and some statistics, we are be able to predict the most common states of all those 0s and 1s (to a high degree of reliability) - Then any OOP would not be useful at all, as we would only be dealing with the factorial combinations - Similar to DNA: all those As and Gs do make a human being - In our case, all the combinations would yield a perfect program.

I think it is fair to say, that if we ever (society as whole), figure out quantum theory, then we will also solve the software engineering problem - I mean, we can build quantum machines with quantum based RAM and quantum based CPUs, which are probably going to be limitless in terms of storage capacity and raw CPU power - If a program fails, it will be able to fix itself, recompile itself, and restart itself, all at the same time - If not, then quantum physics was wrong :)
</suspend belief>

8:57 PM | 2 comment(s) |

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